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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    American Express tells four heartfelt stories of celebrity struggle, and ultimate success, in these spots from Oglivy & Mather. The ads—featuring queen of soul Aretha Franklin, sitcom star Mindy Kaling, GoPro founder Nick Woodman and restauranteur Natalie Young—aired in edited form during Sunday's Academy Awards on ABC.

    The stars, all AmEx customers, recall how they battled adversity. Franklin vanquished youthful shyness and insecurity to become a dynamic stage performer. Kaling overcame typecasting, refusing to play second-banana roles—"best friends" and such—as she climbed the ladder in Hollywood. Woodman reinvented himself from scratch, even moving in with his parents, after his first business failed and he lost $4 million of investors' money.

    Young's tale of addiction is the most intense. "Everything that was good, was gone," she says in a sobering voiceover. "I lost my family. I lost friends, lovers, jobs. … I took any job I could get. I trimmed trees. I washed cars. I just felt like a number. I didn't feel like I was important, and that I was irreplaceable. And they made sure I knew that, that I felt like that. I know, today, that I don't want anybody that works with me to feel that way."

    At the end of each spot, AmEx tries to forge a connection between endorsers, viewers and the company's offerings. For example, during Young's story, text flashes on screen: "To the next generation of late bloomers, welcome." Kaling's ad mentions "the next generation of unlikely leading ladies." Ultimately, AmEx reminds us that "The journey never stops," positioning its products and services as helpful tools to have along the way.

    "People think we're just a brand of when you quote, unquote 'arrive,' " Marie Devlin, AmEx's svp of global advertising, tells The Wall Street Journal. "We very much want to be with people along their journey through life. It's not about a final destination."

    That strategy is fairly well implemented here. The spots look great, and the storytelling is first rate. It's compelling, inspirational stuff, perhaps even refreshing and unexpected for the brand and the category.

    Still, there's a disconnect. There's no evidence, nor even a suggestion, that AmEx helped them achieve stardom—or anything, actually, so the value proposition remains elusive. OK, they carry AmEx cards in their wallets. With all due respect: So what? (At least the campaign's main social component—asking users to tweet in return for AmEx's financial support of a documentary about ballerina Misty Copeland—displays some cause and effect.)

    The whole initiative would be stronger if it focused on famous folks who scored major life victories precisely because, at pivotal points in their development, they used AmEx, and the company's services pulled them through. That would give the campaign an extra layer of integrity, and perhaps deter those who would point out that charge cards—often misused in times of desperation—can bring people's journeys to a crashing halt.

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    Cottonelle wants you to "go commando." That's right, the toilet paper brand says you should walk around without underwear because its CleanRipple texture imparts a superior clean.

    In fact, they've hired documentary filmmaker and British accent possessor Cherry Healey to intercept random people who've just used the toilet and ask them to go commando.  Whereupon they hide in a little pop-up tent, take off their underpants and receive an undies storage baggie and some Cottonelle—in stunts that are both bizarre and amusing.

    I can only surmise that part of the reason they picked Healey is because Poo-Pourri's success taught marketers that Americans like it when potty humor is delivered via a British accent. In fact, Time Out recently found that British accents are considered the most sexy.

    Speaking of sexy, Cottonelle isn't just doing this commando stuff to hawk its product. It's doing it for the good of musicians everywhere. Musicians who have been much maligned by the odious habit women have of throwing our undergarments on stage. Musicians like New Kids on the Block, who kicked off the Cottonelle campaign on Feb. 15 with an intimate concert that didn't get intimate enough for underwear throwing.

    The Kimberly-Clark brand will be joining the first leg of the NKOTB summer tour to offer "an elevated bathroom experience," and surprise meets and greets with the boys—which presumably only happen if you agree to remove your underwear ahead of time. Meow.

    So, if you want to trust your butt to clean ripple, challenge a friend with a free sample, or just want to browse a lot of pictures of people showing side-hip to prove their not wearing underwear, head over to Cottonelle's website. And take a moment to wonder about this new trend in bathroom humor that's sweeping marketing.

    Director: Fred Goss
    Production Company: Company Films
    Editor: Matt Walsh
    Editorial Company: Cutters
    Sound: John Binder
    Sound Studio: Another Country
    Agency: Trisect
    Chief Creative Officer: Chris Cancilla
    Chief Strategy Officer: Gabe Misarti
    Executive Creative Director: Kevin Hughes
    Group Creative Director: Mel Routhier
    Senior Copywriter: Dan Lewis
    Senior Art Director: Garrett Fleming
    Copywriter: Aaron Vick
    Group Account Director: Soraya Faber
    Account Director: Meg Graeff
    Account Executive: Jeanette Polanin
    Strategic Planning Director: Danielle Simon
    Producer: Corrine Serritella

    Photographer: Liz Von Hoene
    Studio: Stockland Martel
    Retoucher: Kellie Kulton
    Agency: Trisect
    Chief Creative Officer: Chris Cancilla
    Chief Strategy Officer: Gabe Misarti
    Executive Creative Director: Kevin Hughes
    Group Creative Director: Mel Routhier
    Senior Copywriter: Dan Lewis
    Senior Art Director: Garrett Fleming
    Copywriter: Aaron Vick
    Group Account Director: Soraya Faber
    Account Director: Meg Graeff
    Account Executive: Jeanette Polanin
    Strategic Planning Director: Danielle Simon
    Producer: Corrine Serritella

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    BBDO New York's "Brady Bunch" Super Bowl campaign for Snickers had a great out-of-home teaser element that not too people saw—but now you can, as video of it was posted Tuesday to the brand's YouTube page.

    The teaser video with Danny Trejo brushing his hair in the mirror rolled out online on Jan. 21. But the billboard campaign began way earlier—back in the first week of the year. By Jan. 9, people were already taking photos of the hand-painted New York City board (originally just showing Marcia Brady) and posting them online, tagged #WhatsUpWithMarcia.

    Over a period of a few weeks, painters slowly transformed sweet Marcia into surly Danny. Check out that process in the new video here:

    The video isn't just a recap of the creative, either. Rather, it kicks off a new U.S. promotion. A spokesperson with Mars Chocolate North America tells us that fans can visit EatA.Snickers.com and show the brand (in photos or videos) who they are when they're hungry—for a chance to win cash prizes and a YouTube takeover for a day.

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    Last fall, Fox Searchlight gave away limited-edition Birdman action figures as part of its marketing for the movie. Now, the Best Picture Oscar winner is reopening in cinemas—and getting a dose of new marketing, including a commercial for those toys.

    It's a fun little morsel of '90s nostalgia—a parody of old Saturday morning toy ads. And like the film it's promoting, it's a multi-layered gem. It has more cuts than the entire movie, though, and also has young children (certainly not the target demo of the R-rated film itself). This is surely a nod to the original Birdman cartoon from the '60s and the subsequent Adult Swim reboot.

    "Hey kids! You too can now defeat Birdman's arch-nemesis The Condor with this spiffy Birdman Action Figure! Batteries not included," says the YouTube page, which goes on to mention that Birdman reopens in theaters this weekend.

    Check out the ad, but don't get too close—it "smells like balls."

    And for more Birdman action figure goodness, check out BirdmanSpeaks.com—and click on the speech bubbles. But make sure you have headphones. This isn't G-rated stuff.

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    Coca-Cola knows that sometimes life straight up sucks. But Coca-Cola also wants you to realize that you, sir, are not the only one with problems.

    This new spot from Wieden + Kennedy, which broke on the Oscars, encourages people to put their own misfortunes in perspective and think of others every once in a while. It's Coke's latest attempt to spread happiness around the world. And while some of its recent efforts have fared better than others, this commercial holds up pretty well.

    It opens in a sleepy beach town on a picturesque boardwalk, where all seems well. But things quickly go downhill—from bad to worse to downright horrendous in 60 swift seconds.

    Take a look:

    A rocker's guitar string breaks and it's lousy, but that's not as bad as the lifeguard whose lookout post goes down in flames. Just as each person is about to enjoy a refreshing sip of Coke, they see something worse happen to someone else—and share their Coke with them to ease the pain.

    The broadcast ad had a cliffhanger ending—it was unclear who would get the Coke next. Coke extended the happiness to fans on Twitter by asking fans to channel their inner screenwriter and guess who, or what, would appear in the final frames. And it goes some serious, and not-so-serious, responses:

    Finally, Coke revealed the big mystery with a new edit of the spot on Twitter and Facebook:

    The ad is cartoony and fun, if a bit repetitive. And it does put things into perspective for you. Just when you think your own life is in utter shambles, there's someone else out there who has it worse, and could use a Coke a lot more than you.

    Sharing is caring.

    Client: The Coca-Cola Company
    Spot: "Generous World"

    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
    Creative Directors: Hal Curtis / Jeff Gillette / Antony Goldstein
    Copywriter: Neil Ramanan
    Art Director: Gianmaria Schonlieb
    Producer: Jennifer Hundis
    Account Team: Brian Mead
    Business Affaires: Teresa Lutz
    Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Mark Fizloff
    Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz

    Production Company: MJZ
    Director: Dante Ariola
    Head of Production: Scott Howard
    Line Producer: Natalie Hill
    Director of Photography: Philippe Le Sound

    Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors
    Editor: Adam Pertofsky
    Assistant Editor: Marjorie Sacks
    Post Producer: Shada Shariatzadeh
    Post Executive Producer: Angela Dorian

    Final Online & Effects: The Mill, Chris Harlow
    Color Correction : Company 3, Stefan Sonnenfield

    Music Company: We Are Walker
    Executive Producer : Sara Matarazzo

    Audio Post and Sound Design Company: Eleven Sound, Jeff Payne


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    A gay couple appears in this Tiffany & Co. spot from Ogilvy & Mather featuring various duos on the brink—or in the process—of getting engaged. (A print ad from the jeweler featuring a different same-sex couple broke a month ago.)

    Part of the jeweler's "Will You?" campaign, it's a sweet spot, in tune with the times, celebrating diversity and true love as simple facts life. (The 75-second ad shows an interracial couple, too.) According to the client, the campaign acknowledges the "variety of forms" found in modern romance, and positions its rings as "the first sentence of the story that a couple will write together."

    The progressive campaign has generated lots of mostly positive media play—Miley Cyrus called it "badass"—though some critics say it doesn't push the envelope enough, while others take Tiffany to task for casting only attractive couples.

    Societal issues aside, the spot shines in its attention to the daily details of affection: sharing a quiet drink or private joke, making gentle fun of a parter's foibles, fixing the buttons on a lover's shirt. Such scenes remind us of the priceless commitment a Tiffany ring represents.

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    Given how much advertising loves office humor, it's a bit surprising that characters from Office Space haven't been revived more often for commercials. Bill Lumbergh, in particular—the 1999 film's most broadly drawn corporate caricature—is great for a laugh. Yet the character, played by Gary Cole, has shown up only once in an ad—for State Farm, a few years ago—and didn't even deliver much of his signature drawling babble.

    Now, Atlassian corrects that with this campaign for HipChat—software that facilitates internal communication at the workplace, including live chat.In the 90-second spot below, Lumbergh has brought in his employees on Labor Day to discuss how they can work better. Instead of using HipChat, he wants more meetings and more emails—and for the latter, "more bulk on your threads." Mmm-kay?

    The onscreen tagline at the end is: "Don't work in the past."

    The campaign, by San Francisco creative agency Brass Ideas, will also include :15s and :30s, banner ads and out-of-home, though not TPS reports.

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    My late grandfather once told me, "There's an ass for every seat." Not until today did I truly know what he meant.

    Just when you thought Miley had ruined twerking for everyone, the folks at AIAIAI headphones raise the bar for rump awareness with their latest project, "Real Booty Music." Music producer Branko (from Buraka Som Sistema) attached sensors to Twerk Queen Louise's derrière and harnessed the movement of—well, butt cheeks—to create new music. 

    It really is something to behold.

    The company says: "The overall idea behind the project was to provide AIAIAI headphone users and other music lovers with new music. Moreover, we wanted to do this in an unusual way, which brought about music made by the booty—for the booty. The project explores the rich heritage of bass-driven club culture, where dancing and booty shaking are integral elements. We want to see if it's possible to change the perception of twerking through placing it in a technology-driven, creative context and letting the dance 'do the talking.' "

    In the event that the video simply whetted your appetite for the track, check it out:

    Via Ads of the World.

    Client: AIAIAI
    Creative Director / Art Director: Peter Michael Willer
    Copywriter: Ulrik Nørgaard
    Artist: Branko
    Dancer: Twerk Queen Louise
    Creative Technology Design: Pieter-Jan Pieters / Owow
    Engineers: Joep le Blanc, Alex Tsamakos
    Film Director: Mike Nybroe
    Webdesigner: Andy Borglind
    Published: February 2015

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    Sonic is pretty serious about playing with its food.

    A new campaign from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners transforms actors' mouths into zany little characters using face paint, à la makeup artist Lauren Jenkinson's renditions of classic cartoon characters.

    The illustrations are great more or less across the board, even if some of the writing and delivery—the self-destructive robot, the melodramatic doctor, the angst-ridden teenager—might try a little too hard to be funny.

    The better monologues turn the corner on relatable bits of truth—like a Southern belle who scrambles to save face after it turns out she's not so refined after all—or on straight-up charming silliness—like a hammy yeti, idiotic octopus or behind-the-times groundhog.

    The best moments, though, come from the more subtle facial cues, like when a chin twitch becomes a boxer pumping his pecs, or a soul patch finds new life as chest hair (in what might be the most perfect equivalence ever).

    Then again, that all might just be a matter of taste—promoting the fast-food chain's various drink flavors is, after all, kind of the point. But seriously, just try to keep your brain from imploding when Abraham Lincoln cracks a pun about a Leonardo DiCaprio movie.

    Client: Sonic
    Campaign "Sipsters"
    Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

    Executive Creative Director/Partner: Margaret Johnson
    ACD/Writer: Jon Wolanske
    ACD/Art Director/Designer: Kevin Koller
    Copywriter: Justin Ralph

    Account Services & Strategy
    Group Account Director: Leslie Barrett
    Account Director: Jenna Duboe
    Assistant Account Manager: Olivia Mullen
    Business Affairs Managers: Chrissy Shearer, Jane Regan
    Senior Communication Strategist: John-James Richardson

    Director of Broadcast Production: Tod Puckett
    Broadcast Producer: Melissa Nagy
    Production Company: eLevel Films (Goodby Silverstein & Partners)
    Director: Claude Shade/Jon Wolanske
    Director of Photography: Brett Simms
    Executive Producer: PJ Koll
    Line Producer: Genevieve Giraudo
    Production Manager: Haley Klarfield
    Make-up Artists: Sarah Coy, Victor Cembelin, Sophie Smith and Monica Bishop

    eLevel Films (Goodby Silverstein & Partners)
    Editor: Quinn Motika
    Executive Producer: PJ Koll
    Post Producer: Samantha Liss
    Telecine: Nathan Shipley
    Online: Kyle Westbrook
    Audio Mix/Sound Design: Nic DeMatteo, Jody Scott, Jon Shamieh
    Music: APM Music
    End Title Design: Kevin Koller


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    Attention, creatives: You have actual paying clients, and shouldn't be pissing your time away working on briefs for some cockamamie ad contest. But if you do, at least keep it quiet.

    That's the message of this amusing video by agency Zulu Alpha Kilo encouraging entries to Canada's National Advertising Challenge—a contest that challenges creatives to dream up the most unconventional solutions for Canadian marketers. Sounds like fun? Sure, but you'd better not let certain colleagues know you plan to enter.

    The winning teams get a trip to Cannes in June. The NAC got 200 entries last year, but hopes to double that this year. The briefs go live March 2, with a deadline of March 30.

    "We have big aspirations for the NAC, but we were facing a serious comprehension issue within the creative community," says Ellie Metrick, marketing and communications manager at NAC. "This year's online video goes a long way in explaining that we offer creatives an opportunity to do original work in exchange for a chance to go to Cannes."

    Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo
    Client: National Advertising Challenge
    Creative Director: Zak Mroueh
    Art Director: Ari Elkouby
    Copywriter: George Ault
    Agency Producer: Tara Handley
    Production House: Someplace Nice
    Director: Pete Henderson
    Account Team: Alexandra Potter
    Client: Ellie Metrick
    Production House Producer: Robbie McNamara
    Video Post, Editing Company: Rooster
    Editor: Chris Parkins
    Online, Transfer: Fort York
    Flame Artist: Lauren Rempel
    Audio Post Facility, Music House: Zulu Alpha Kilo
    Audio Director, Engineer: Stephen Stepanic
    Casting Director: Shasta Lutz

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    Apple Watch gets a 12-page spread in the March issue of Vogue, part of the run-up to the wearable device's launch in April. Rate-card value: north of $2.2 million.

    All three versions of the watch—the luxe 18-karat gold model, a sports watch and the leather-bound standard edition—are featured in the magazine's "Spring Fashion Blockbuster," and the images we've seen so far look appropriately stylish. (Scroll down to see for a sample of pages from the ad section.)

    The sleek, angular devices are tastefully displayed in classic Apple style against plain white backgrounds. In one shot, the watch's face appears to rise from a milky mist, the muted hues of its app icons signaling its time has arrived. Another shows a rising segment of the band in stark relief, suggesting a silvery stairway to heaven (by which I mean the nearest Apple Store, naturally).

    More than anything, these arty abstractions resemble jewelry advertising, with the Apple Watch cast as the latest shiny bauble for the tech-crazed masses. Tres chic! Tres Apple!

    Observers have generally lauded the strategy of positioning the watch as a fashion accessory, though some point out that Google Glass went the Vogue route with a spread two years ago and failed to catch on with the masses.

    In my view, that's an unfair comparison. The failure of Google Glass has been analyzed to death, but ultimately, its lack of "cool"—perched on users' faces, for everyone to see—was perhaps a fatal, if unavoidable, flaw.

    Apple Watch, a far more discreet wearable, won't provide such a sorry spectacle. Like fine timepieces of old, it's designed to be admired while remaining unobtrusive. Folks who catch a glimpse of the gadget won't confer Glasshole-type scorn on wearers. Instead, the device will inspire curiosity and a desire to buy.

    It will be in vogue in for years. Just watch.

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    Facebook, in its advertising, used to get all caught up in lofty and tortured metaphors for friendship. But its latest ads—gritty, immediate, powerfully evocative—show how far the social network has come in grounding its message in more relatable truths.

    Three new 60-second ads from in-house agency The Factory meditate on just what friendship means to people. And they succeed on almost every level, for a variety of reasons.

    First, the writing is poetic and—maybe most critically—humble. "They make our lives a little different, leave us a little bit changed," the voiceover says of friends in the first spot. The self-effacing tone is a thread that runs through the whole campaign (and is the polar opposite of the cosmic pretensions in the old "Chairs" ad).

    The writing also weaves in the familiar Facebook nomenclature—"likes," "shares," "friend requests"—in ways that mesh with real life, and don't feel purely virtual. "They drag us into their madness, make us heroes in their stories," says the narrator. "So we let their likes become our likes, and the things they share become the things we share."

    The casting and direction—by MJZ's Mike Mills—are also fantastic. Almost everyone in the spots looks a little bit odd. There are no all-American beauties at all, which gives the whole enterprise a kind of redemptive vibe. These are people who craved friendship but sought it cautiously, then cemented it passionately when it happened. (The casting is also as diverse as it gets. One spot even features an interracial gay kiss—and Facebook didn't even turn off the YouTube comments.)

    That passion is captured perfectly in so many of the vignettes. These characters don't have any dialogue, but each scene is clearly—sometimes mysteriously—filled with life. The few seconds in the car in "Our Friends" are particularly evocative. It's unclear what's happening, but it looks like dangerous fun—a story to be told later. (The camerawork extends this, slowly moving in or out of each scene, witness to lives that aren't standing still.)

    There's only the occasional glimpse of a mobile phone—wisely suggesting that the platform is secondary to the experiences that can be lived, and then shared on it.

    Finally, there's the music—spare piano versions of Rihanna's "Umbrella," the Cure's "Close to Me" and Madonna's "Like a Prayer." The tracks do a nice job of lending atmosphere that feels, like the best friendships, both familiar and new.

    Facebook has been doing strong advertising for about six months now, but this is its best work yet. Whether the company even needs to promote itself is another issue, but at least these days it's doing it right.

    Client: Facebook
    Agency: The Factory
    Executive Creative Director: Scott Trattner
    Creative Director: Kevin Butler
    Associate Creative Director: Omid Rashidi
    Copywriter: James Smith
    Producer: Adrian Gunadi
    Production: MJZ
    Director: Mike Mills
    Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson
    Editorial: Spot Welders
    Editor: Haines Hall
    Executive Producer: Carolina Sanborn
    Finishing: a52
    VFX Supervisor: Patrick Murphy
    Lead Flame Artist: Brendan Crockett
    Producer: Stacy Kessler-Aungst
    Sound Design: Lime Studios
    Mixers: Loren Silber, Mark Meyuhas, Matt Miller, Rohan Young, Zac Fisher

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    Google Play has been running a great branded content series from BBH Los Angeles called "California Inspires Me," featuring interviews—which are then set to animation—with famous Californians talking about their upbringing. It's a collaboration with California Sunday magazine (the regional print offshoot of nonfiction event series Pop-Up Magazine), and the results have been fantastic.

    The latest spot in the series breaks today, featuring Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, who explains how he grew up legally blind and initially wasn't that interested in music. It's a lovely way to tell these kinds of stories. Have a look here:

    To get an idea of how this campaign works behind the scenes, AdFreak chatted with Josh Webman, creative director at BBH L.A.

    AdFreak: Can you describe the collaboration between BBH, California Sunday and Google Play? Who's responsible for what?
    Josh Webman: Everyone at Google and BBH loved the Pop-Up Magazine series. It was an incredible, sort of, "happening," where on one night different artists, journalists and filmmakers present their work on stage—and then it all goes away. Nothing is filmed or recorded. As it turned out, Pop-Up was starting a new magazine series called California Sunday, and they were really interested in story advertising. The timing was perfect.

    We all worked together to create the "California Inspires Me" series of print ads and animated films. It's been a true collaboration between the three partners, with everyone bringing value to the work. We're fortunate to have a client like Google Play, who is a big believer in creating advertising that doesn't feel like advertising and putting content out into the world that is authentic and inspiring.

    How do you choose the interviewees?
    We all kind of go around the room and try to think about who has a truly unique story. Whose story would be fun to bring to life? Everyone has a say.

    What's the process like for the interviews? Do you sit down and have a long chat and then pick the best part? Is it more structured than that?
    The studios team at California Sunday is amazing at getting people to open up. They have a deep roster of producers and writers from This American Life and public radio, who have a knack for getting the most interesting morsels out of their subjects. We would then all pore over the interview and transcripts afterwards, pick out the nicest bits, and start carving out a narrative.

    Is the audio edited a lot?
    We usually have somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour and a half of unedited conversation. Then, we cut down—as is always the case, we end up having to kill a few of our babies for the sake of a nice, tight story.

    Do you then find animators to put pictures to the words?
    Actually, we are already researching animators well in advance of the interview. Sometimes, this is the hardest part of the whole process, because each one of us has this back-pocket, laundry list of animators we've been dying to work with. So we're all kind of jockeying for our favorites. But it all becomes a little clearer when we finally land on an interview subject. There was always a "eureka" moment, where we knew the subject and the animator just belonged together. It's matchmaking.

    What led you to Mark Mothersbaugh?
    Who doesn't love Devo? We were all fans. But really, Mark is so much more than Devo. He has such a dynamic and varied body of work, and the trajectory of his career has taken so many fascinating and unexpected turns. It felt like, "Why wouldn't we want to tell that story? It's riveting."

    In many ways, he embodies what we think of when we think of a multidimensional artist. He just has so many tools in his belt. And his personal story—how he "made it," how he became who he is—is just as interesting as the art he creates. Mark has influenced whole generations, and in different mediums, too. He just seemed perfect for this project.

    You got Madrid-based directing duo Manson to direct this. Why them?
    Because they're amazing. That's the short answer. The long answer is, our design director, Florencio Zavala, came across the work of street artist/illustrator SAWE—one half of Manson—and we were all blown away. After one viewing of Tomás's work as well, we knew we had to work with this crew. Mark's story is fascinating, and we knew these guys would really elevate it. And they did. Knocked it out of the park.

    What other videos have you done?
    We've done "California Inspires Me" profiles on director Mike Mills, and the indie singer Thao Nguyen. And of course, Jack Black. We are hard at work on the next few installments, and they are great, really interesting, inspiring people whose stories are told beautifully. The diversity of the subjects is key, so we are trying to surprise people. We really hope everyone likes them.

    The whole series has a dreamy vibe. Was that the intent all along?
    We think so. It's the California way, right? We're all based in California—BBH L.A., Google Play, and California Sunday—so we wanted to have that feeling come across in the films, but subtly—we didn't want to be heavy handed about it.

    We wanted to get across the surprising way the state of California can be this great, unexpected haven for creativity—a place for dreamers and misfits. There's a certain allure there, and an ideal that feeds right into a dreamy fantasy. To that end, we do always ask the illustrators to give us a bit of a surreal/fantasy vibe. That's the great thing about animation: You can open it up and tell a person's story in a less formal way.

    What is the series trying to say, deep down, about California?
    California is thought of as a lot of different things. Thanks in part to the film industry, we know it's a place where artists come to, but it's also a place where artists come from. It is a creative mecca as rich and diverse as any in the world, from the beat scene in the '50s, Haight-Ashbury, Beautiful Losers, Ray and Charles Eames to Compton, Silicon Valley, Sound City, the Sunset Strip, Disney, Pixar, CalArts and Grand Royal.

    California is a place where people not only find their footing, but grow and bloom, developing as people and as artists. BBH, California Sunday and Google Play wanted to shine a light on that idea. It really is a magical place, and it's cool to hear how California does in fact inspire people. We're all hoping, in our own way, that the series inspires others as well.

    See the previous videos from the series here:

    Client: Google Play
    Global Director of Marketing: Brian Irving
    Marketing Manager: Zena Arnold
    Product Marketing Manager: Robin Gonterman

    Spot: "California Inspires Me: Mark Mothersbaugh"

    Director: Manson Animation: Manson
    Music: Shannon Ferguson

    Sound Production: Youth Radio

    Agency: BBH, Los Angeles
    Executive Creative Director: Pelle Sjoenell
    Creative Director: Josh Webman
    Creative Director: Peter Albores
    Design Director: Florencio Zavala
    Art Director: James Beke
    Copywriter: Tyree Harris
    Business Director: Derek McCarty
    Account Lead: Raquel Castro

    California Sunday
    Publisher, President: Chas Edwards
    Producer, "California Inspires Me": Derek Fagerstrom

    Project Manager: Whitney Lynn
    Account Executive: Noelle Kaplan
    Front End Developer: Amelia Kaufman

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    It was an uplifting week in the week's best commercials, as Facebook, Apple and Comcast all delivered inspiring ads about friendship, passion and imagination. Those three spots are joined by a lovable Coca-Cola farce and some PetSmart comedy. See all the ads below, and vote for your favorite.

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    Getting your car serviced by a dealer, rather than some random mechanic, isn't just a smart idea. It's a triumph of good over evil.

    That's the message of this entertaining, intentionally over-the-top Audi commercial from German agency Thjnk and Radical Media director Sebastian Strasser. And indeed, the independent mechanics here are very much to be feared, as hundreds of them—greasy mitts clutching wrenches—chase down an Audi as it roars through a desert on its way to an Audi service center for its tuneup.

    It's wonderfully silly, and nicely shot. The mechanics multiply, with giant packs of them teeming and seething, falling over each other, and eventually gathering in a giant pulsing heap outside the service center—very much recalling the Grand Prix-winning PlayStation "Mountain" ad from 2003, or the zombies from World War Z.

    "Don't let your Audi fall into the wrong hands," says the on-screen copy at the end.

    Adweek responsive video player used on /video.

    The ad's focus "is not the 'conventional' communications about service personnel and what they have to offer, but rather the monumental showcasing of the eternal struggle between good and evil," the agency said in a statement.

    Silke Miksche, head of marketing communications for Audi Germany, added: "The subject of 'service' is of tremendous importance both for the customer and for us as car manufacturer and our dealerships—and yet it has so far not been the focus of our communications. The way we approach the subject is altogether unexpected—emotional, spectacular, epic. In other words, this is truly big-screen stuff."

    Client: Audi
    Title: "Mechanics"
    Agency: Thjink Berlin GmbH
    Executive Creative Director: Stefan Schulte
    Creative Director: Siyamak Seyedasgari
    Account: Nicole Bierwolf, Hendrik Heine
    Director: Sebastian Strasser
    Production Company: RadicalMedia Berlin
    Director of Photography: Roman Vasyanov
    Producers: Christoph Petzenhauser, Kathy Rhodes, Yan Schoenefeld
    Casting: Julia Kim (U.S.), Francesca Green (U.K.)
    Editor: Paul Hardcastle, Trim Editing
    Colorist: George K, MPC London
    Score: Robert Cairns
    Visual Effects: Time Based Arts, London
    Visual Effects Supervisor: James Allen
    Visual Effects Lead Artists: James Allen, Sheldon Gardner, Steven Grasso

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    What a day the Internet had yesterday. First we watched llamas on the loose. Then, just after 6 p.m., BuzzFeed posted what might be its single most-shared article ever: "What Colors Are This Dress."

    If you're unaware—which is impossible, unless you live in a cave—the story pointed to a Tumblr discussion about the color of a dress. Welp, the Internet exploded—and so did the brands, which swarmed the topic like flies.

    See some of the tweets below. Hooray for net neutrality! I guess?

    UPDATE: We've added some more tweets from Oreo and others this afternoon. See all the tweets below.

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    Tiger Woods has been having a rough time for about half a decade. He's been stuck on 14 major championships since 2008, but it's good to know he can poke a little fun at himself.

    Tiger gives his pursuit of No. 15 a quick, humorous mention in this entertaining Nike Golf spot from Wieden + Kennedy, which also stars Rory McIlroy, Michelle Wie, Charles Barkley and Bo Jackson (who utters a certain familiar phrase from an old, old, old W+K campaign for Nike). Comedian Keegan-Michael Key provides the voiceover.

    The ad, for Nike's Vapor driver, takes a humorous look at why golfers of all skill levels might want to change their driver.

    Client: Nike Golf
    Project: There's Always Better

    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
    Creative Directors: Chris Groom / Stuart Brown
    Copywriter: Brock Kirby
    Art Director: Derrick Ho
    Producer: Jeff Selis
    Interactive Strategy: Reid Schilperoort
    Strategic Planning: Andy Lindblade / Brandon Thornton
    Media, Communications: Alex Dobson / Jocelyn Reist
    Account Team: Alyssa Ramsey / Rob Archibald / Heather Morba / Ramiro Del-Cid
    Business Affairs: Dusty Slowik
    Project Management: Nancy Rea
    Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Mark Fizloff
    Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz

    Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
    Director: Steve Rogers
    Executive Producer: Holly Vega
    Line Producer: Vincent Landay
    Director of Photography: Nicolas Karakatsanis

    Editorial Company: Joint Editorial
    Editor: Matthew Hilber,
    Post Producer: Leslie Carthy
    Post Executive Producer: Patty Brebner

    Visual Effects Company: The Mill
    Visual Effects Supervisor: Tim Davies
    Visual Effects Producer: Will Lemmon

    Music, Sound Company: Barking Owl


    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
    Creative Directors: Chris Groom / Stuart Brown
    Copywriter: Brock Kirby
    Art Director: Derrick Ho
    Producer: Jeff Selis
    Interactive Strategy: Reid Schilperoort
    Strategic Planning: Andy Lindblade / Brandon Thornton
    Media, Communications Planning: Alex Dobson / Jocelyn Reist
    Account Team: Alyssa Ramsey / Rob Archibald / Heather Morba / Ramiro Del-Cid
    Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Mark Fitzloff
    Agency Executive Producer: Ben Grylewicz
    Digital Designer: Rob Mumford
    Executive Interactive Producer: Patrick Marzullo
    Content Producers: Byron Oshiro / Sarah Gamazo
    Broadcast: Jeff Selis
    Art Buying: Amy Berriochoa
    Photographer: Henrique Plantikow
    Interactive Studio Artists: Adam Sirkin, Oliver Rokoff

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    Rhett & Link will slake your thirst for goofy, brand-inspired comedy in the "Ultimate Water Taste Test," a wonderfully wet episode of their "Good Mythical Morning" YouTube show.

    The guys, best known for their brilliantly bad local commercials, compete against each other to identify seven varieties of water. They sample five brands: Dasani, Evian, Fiji, Smart Water and Blk Water. ("It's not from a river in Alabama," Rhett quips, but infused with fulvic powder, "whatever that is.") There's also pond water from Echo Park in Los Angeles and H2O straight from the tap.

    The duo don a dual-action water-tasting apparatus—basically hardhats and two hoses for drinking—that actually connects their heads, making them look, Link notes, "like two construction workers talked into doing some kind of scuba trust exercise."

    Once the blind water taste test begins, the snark pours forth.

    "It's got a flowed-down-through-snow-in-the-Alps kind of a feel to it."
    "There's an elevation in this taste—this is from up high, not from down below."
    "Tastes like clouds."
    "I can taste vapor distillation."
    "If somebody's selling this, they need to stop immediately."

    You'll have to watch the 15-minute segment—streaming rapidly toward 1 million YouTube views in just two days—to see how many of the seven they correctly identify. Be sure to hang in for the refreshingly honest "Neither Water" spoof commercial at the end, which drives home the point that, when you're truly parched, branding doesn't hold water.

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    Brands are obsessed with space, getting to space, and anything that's been to space. This week, it was Jose Cuervo's chance to boldly go where no tequila brand had gone before—and hopefully make it home safely.

    In honor of National Margarita Day last Sunday, Cuervo and its agency, McCann New York—using aerospace technology and GPS tracking—launched a container of margarita ingredients heavenward, hoping to mix a cocktail in space and parachute it back to Earth.

    See how that went in this video:

    Adweek responsive video player used on /video.

    The agency teamed up with independent space program JP Aerospace, along with scientists who led the Phoenix Mission to Mars, to build and launch the spacecraft. The launch site was Pinal County Park, about an hour north of Tucson, Ariz.

    Severe buffeting of winds at high altitude shook the margarita, and the extreme cold froze it. When the capsule reached about 100,000 feet into space, the weather balloons shattered and the capsule parachuted down.

    The margarita landed in a ravine 100 miles from the launch site. It reportedly tasted good.

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    In this inspirational ad from Wieden + Kennedy for Powerade, a boy who represents a young Derrick Rose rides through the south side of Chicago to a voiceover by Tupac Shakur—the late rapper's first narration of a commercial.

    "You see, you wouldn't ask why the rose that grew from the concrete had damaged petals," Shakur says. "On the contrary, we would all celebrate its tenacity. We would all love its will to reach the sun. Well, we are the roses. This is the concrete. These are my damaged petals. Don't ask me why. Ask me how."

    The bike ride from the South Side to the United Center reflects Rose's journey from the streets of Englewood, through adversity, to the NBA. The scenes then change to the present day, with the recently injured Bulls point guard drinking a Powerade courtside. Copy flashes, "We're all just a kid from somewhere," and the spot ends with a Rose wearing a "Just a kid from Chicago" sweatshirt.

    The #powerthrough hashtag seems poignant in light of Rose's recent injuries. And of course, using lines from "The Rose That Grew Through Concrete" is almost too lovely and perfect.

    Client: Powerade
    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
    Production Company: Smuggler
    Director: Jaron Albertin


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